Morning Links

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

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90 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  PW | 

    It should also be noted that when the witch lady from Nigeria came to Houston, she was denounced and ridiculed and only drew what that article described as a “small group” (at an all-Nigerian church, I might add – ). She had a similar response in London, where people picketed her outside.

    Now compare that to how she is received in Nigeria:

    “Last August, when she had herself consecrated Christendom’s first “lady apostle,” Nigerian politicians and Nollywood actors attended the ceremony.”

    As I said, it’s NOT just a “small group” that believes in this stuff in Africa.

  2. #2 |  BSK | 

    You’re 40% statistic is deliberately misleading. 40% of cases involving witchcraft does not mean that it’s not still a small minority. What percentage of AFRICANS, since you seem intent on branding the whole continent, genuinely believe what these con artists and lunatics are selling?

  3. #3 |  PW | 

    Here’s the full quote from the article, BSK:

    “By some estimates, about 40 percent of the cases in the Central African court system are witchcraft prosecutions. (Drug offenses in the U.S., by contrast, account for just 12 percent of arrests.) In Mbaiki—where Pygmies, who are known for bewitching each other, make up about a tenth of the population—witchcraft prosecutions exceed 50 percent of the case load, meaning that most alleged criminals there are suspected of doing things that Westerners generally regard as impossible.”

    Did you catch that? 40% of all criminal cases in the Central African Republic are for witchcraft, and in the Mbaiki region it exceeds 50%.

    It is difficult if not impossible to get full statistics for all of Africa (in part due to how dysfunctional most African governments simply are). But there is good reason to believe that the Central African Republic’s figures are typical for its neighbors in Central Africa, which have similarly high animist populations and similar laws on the books regarding witchcraft and sorcery. As the article puts it:

    “The classic study of witchcraft in Africa occurred among the Azande, who inhabit the eastern edge of the Central African Republic. The anthropologist Edward E. Evans-Pritchard found that the Azande attributed a staggering range of misfortunes—infected toes, collapsed granary roofs, even bad weather—to meddling by witches. Nothing happened by chance, only as an effect of spell-casting by a wicked interloper. That sentiment remains widespread among Central Africans, who demand that the law reflect the influence of witchcraft as they understand it.”

    As I said, it’s NOT just a “small group” that believes in this stuff in Africa.

  4. #4 |  PW | 

    Anecdotal evidence also suggests that the witchcraft fanaticism is common all over Africa, including in some of its most stable countries.

    – A 1996 government report from South Africa – the stablest country on the continent – reported that almost 150 people were murdered that year year for witchcraft and sorcery, and twice as many attacked or having their property vandalized.

    – A 1996 report from the Congo documented 40 witchcraft murders that year.

    – A 2009 Red Cross report documented 50 murders of Albinos in Tanzania since 2007, and a related survey by Pew indicated that an astounding 93% of Tanzanians believed in witchcraft.

    The full survey can be accessed online here (p. 178 for witchcraft question). It indicates that even in countries on the LOW end of the spectrum, 20% of the population still believes in witchcraft. Questions about belief in “evil spirits” and the use of sacrifices to prevent bad things from happening are similarly alarming, with many countries falling in the 40-60% range (p. 180).

    As I said, it’s NOT just a “small group” that believes in this stuff in Africa.

  5. #5 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Jim Collins – Making things blow up on demand is HARD. More, making it not blow up before hand is harder. Just making things HOT is a lot easier, but that doesn’t really have the same effect – and terrorists so far have gone after people, rather than what is truly effective at causing policy change – the infrastructure.

    (You *can’t* defend it all without becoming a police state. Sewage works, substations, air traffic radar…heck, consider the consequences of deliberately spreading foot and mouth disease among cattle – the natural outbreak in the UK shut the countryside down for a summer! You don’t *need* to kill anyone, but the Jihadis go for flashy deaths instead)

    And even when you do things “right”, well, there’s always stuff like this:

  6. #6 |  BSK | 

    From the Arizona article:
    “”If you go back to the original intent of the drafters … it was never intended to bestow citizenship upon (illegal) aliens,” said Kavanagh, who also supported Senate Bill 1070 — the law that gave Arizona authorities expanded immigration enforcement powers.”

    Two thoughts: Without the clarification by the writer, it appears that Kavanagh is simply talking about aliens. And I doubt Jefferson had much concern about Martians.

    More to the point, I’m pretty sure the original drafters of the document deliberately intended to turn a bunch of non-citizens directly into citizens, being that they were creating a brand new country. So, yea, I’m pretty sure their intent was to bestow citizenship upon non-citizens.

  7. #7 |  BSK | 



  8. #8 |  PW | 

    BSK –

    60% of South Africans believe in evil spirits
    55% of South Africans believe in witchcraft
    46% of South Africans believe in a spell-casting “evil eye”
    56% of South Africans believe in sacrifices to ancestor spirits for protection
    20% of South Africans believe in ju-jus to ward off evil spirits

    Similarly high percentages are evident throughout sub-saharan Africa.

    As I said, it’s NOT just a “small group” that believes in this stuff in Africa.

  9. #9 |  BSK | 

    I think the river rafting situation is a bit more complicated than some other commenters have indicated, only because of the specific difficulties related to water rescues. There are many instances where a rescue situation can be made far more dangerous by people just jumping in to the water. They can often be dragged down if the victim is drowning, resulting in two people needing to be saved. So my guess is it is possible that is where the police are coming from in this matter (though the cynic in me just thinks they are jealous they were showed up). Ultimately, it’s still pretty ridiculous that they are considering going after this guy, being that he DID save the victim and, as such, in no way, shape, or form obstructed or jeopardized the rescue operation. If he did somehow get in the way of rescuers and lead to greater harm or even death, than I think there should be some accountability. Luckily, that wasn’t the case and this man should be celebrated.

  10. #10 |  Greg N. | 

    I’ve said it a million times: the American right-wing religious influence in Africa is the most dangerous trend around. There’s a cottage industry of American evangelicals exploiting Africans (mostly survivors of the Rwandan genocide) for their own gain, and spreading the most disgusting parts of their creed throughout the continent. It’s a very disturbing and dangerous trend, particularly because it’s so often sold under the color of moderate faith.

  11. #11 |  Jim Collins | 

    I understand what you are saying. I have a working knowledge of explosives. Enough knowledge that I am on a few Government lists. The problem is that we can’t afford to rely on the incompetence of terrorists.

  12. #12 |  Carl Bussjaeger | 

    “#49 | Jim Collins | June 15th, 2010 at 5:10 pm
    What if the bomb would have worked?”

    What if pigs could fly? What if the guy who wanted to hang on to his carry-on got it under the seat without pissing off the flight attendant? What if we had a government smart enough not to dispatch multimillion dollar jet fighters in response to luggage stowing disputes or a man with food poisoning? What if TSA were to magically become competent and trustworthy overnight? What if panicky, ignorant bureaucrats didn’t push for millimeter wave body scanners to detect PETN powder, which they can’t detect?

    PETN is a high explosive which requires the shock of another explosive to detonate. IF he and his handlers thought they’d found a way to “sensitize” PETN such that a match flame would induce detonation, you would expect NON-NITWITS to test it first. Clearly, they did not test, as the said nitwit incinerated his cojones.

    Or, if you refer to the Times Square “bomb”, it pretty much wasn’t. The nitwit stuffed the gun safe full of a nonexplosive fertilizer, not explosive petroleum-infused ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Nor did his propane tank assembly work, because propane isn’t explosive until you thoroughly mix it with air in proper proportions (a fuel-air-explosive). You can get it to explode by confining a poor FAE mix first, but you need gear the nitwit didn’t use. The best his rig MIGHT have done was burn his vehicle, and maybe scorch some nearby vehicles a little. Note that a car fire, rather than explosion, is precisely what tipped off people walking by.

    You may recall that shoe-bomber Reid failed to detonate his sneakers, too.

  13. #13 |  You! Slow Down! | 

    Police have no business being involved in swiftwater rescue in the first place. They should leave it to professionals like river guides who actually know what they are doing on the water.

  14. #14 |  JS | 

    Leon Wolfeson “You *can’t* defend it all without becoming a police state.”

    That’s the bottom line. Ultimately it comes down to safety or freedom and they can’t even guarantee our safety anyway. I’ll always remember President Bush looking in the camera and saying that we may just have to give up some of our freedoms for safety. Well fuck that, I’d rather die in a thousand 9-11’s.

  15. #15 |  BSK | 


    Great point. In a situation like that, we should seek out the most qualified person who can most immediately offer genuine help. If that is a cop, so be it. If it’s a river guide, go with that. And anyone who gets in the way who couldn’t reasonably have helped the situation should get a swift kick in the junk (two if they’re a cop).

  16. #16 |  GT | 

    The link about William Kristol is not remotely surprising – he and his ilk are always gung-ho when it comes to sending the underclasses’ children off to kill brown children.

    Kristol is not only a complete fuckwit who has never been right about anything since the day he was shat, but he’s a coward to boot.

    How about a Constitutional Amendment: any pundit or political parasite who advocates for war should have one of their children executed in the event that belligerents kill so much as a single civilian (or damage infrastructure essential to civilian life).

    We have to do SOMETHING to stop parasitic vermin like Kristol from fomenting destruction simply in order to help pay for palaces for their cronies.

    Caedite Eos.



  17. #17 |  Andrew Williams | 

    In re calling terrorists nitwits:
    Sorry, Atlantic, but SF writer Spider Robinson–via the Toronto Globe and Mail–beat you to it by, oh, almost 10 years. The essay in question is called “A Tale of Two Charlies,” and it’s in his collection entitled (appropriately enough) *The Crazy Years.*
    Also recommended reading–and the inspiration for Spider’s essay–is Dean Ing’s classic short story “Very Proper Charlies.”

    PS You might also drop Spider a word of condolence on his site, since his wife died two weeks ago.

  18. #18 |  adam | 

    Maybe, Scientology is on to something. Maybe, we should encourage other nutty religious movements to abort themselves.

  19. #19 |  BSK | 


    You’re neglecting our country’s long held tradition of engaging in rich men’s wars and poor men’s fights. Sigh…

  20. #20 |  Carl Bussjaeger | 

    “#67 | Andrew Williams | June 16th, 2010 at 2:05 am
    Also recommended reading–and the inspiration for Spider’s essay–is Dean Ing’s classic short story “Very Proper Charlies.””

    I’d also throw in Ing’s novel, The Big Lifters. Several expendable, inept terrorists manipulated by a rather smart man to accomplish goals in a manner some might not think of. Good reading. (It also features a space launch concept that inspired an idea in my own novel, Net Assets; I liked his idea, but didn’t want to wait around for his technology to mature.)

  21. #21 |  Paul Vail | 

    Bill Kristol is in his 50’s, is he suppose to join the army? The failed war talk after 18 months of Obama is wearing a little thin. It’s talk like that, that makes me wonder about this sites orientation, is this a liberal site disguised as a libertarian site? Hope not, but it sounds like it might. You said it was Kristol’s war? Kristol is a writer/publisher he wasn’t Secretary of …OH WAIT, I get it… Kristol is a Jew, and is part of the Jewish plot to get American to bomb Iran, and the Mosad set up 9/11. Over educated younger gentiles hate Jews because they are jealous of the power they imagine they have.

  22. #22 |  MassHole | 

    Paul Vail: The Stupid. You haz it.

  23. #23 |  Radley Balko | 

    Goodbye, Paul Vail.

  24. #24 |  JS | 

    Thank you Radley! That was about a 3 day tour de force of titling at straw men.

    Now, where the hell’s Fluffy?

  25. #25 |  Marty | 

    #63 | You! Slow Down!

    ‘Police have no business being involved in swiftwater rescue in the first place. They should leave it to professionals like river guides who actually know what they are doing on the water.’

    so… ‘where do you find ‘professionals’ in subdivision flash floods? mass casualty incidents?

    I’m a rescue tech with a fire department- most water rescues resolve themselves before govt rescue ever arrives, BUT competent chains of command are what makes rescues run smoothly. Bystanders bust the chain of command. You create multiple victims, distractions, etc.

    Having said that, if I was on vacation and the rescuing entity wasn’t competent, I’d grab the girl.

    So, I’m a bit mixed on this.

  26. #26 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    @#29 Dave,

    Although, I have to admit, since the U.S. apparently feels compelled to make enemies out of as many foreign powers as it possibly can, protecting Israel certainly makes that easier.

    I cannot believe you have anything less than unquestioning support for Israel. Surely, they will be kicking you out of America.

    It is time for Israel to stand on its own as a viable country. If it cannot, then everyone needs to do one of two things:
    1. Accept that the Brittish Mandate was moronic (it was) and move out.
    2. Make Israel the 51st state of America (because nothing makes sense these days, so why the hell not).

    Here’s a recipe for disaster: Invite 2 million Muslims to move into downtown Philly and take (by E.D.) all the land. No, this isn’t an exact analogy because how Israel was formed was even more offensive.

    Love Jews. Hate Israel. Not a hard concept.

  27. #27 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    •The case for calling terrorists nitwits.

    No way. We’ve spent a trillion dollars, killed hundreds of thousands of people, and taken away a long list of freedoms fighting these terrorists. If they aren’t brilliant, then our government has lied to us for their own gain.

    (cricket noise)

  28. #28 |  Marta Rose | 

    but GT, how do you really feel? ;-)

  29. #29 |  Marta Rose | 

    btw, am loving all the gay ads. or can only gay people see the gay ads? very colorful. ;-)

  30. #30 |  markm | 

    Marty: It sounds like the police tried to interfere with a rescue that was already in progress, for a half hour before they arrived.

  31. #31 |  markm | 

    They should have just re-printed “Very Proper Charlies”, with an afterword about such ineptness as the underwear bomber and suicide bombers who set themselves off with a group hug. For those unfamiliar with Dean Ing’s 1978 short story, his theory was that terrorism is publicity-seeking, therefore see that the only public recognition accorded to them is cruel laughter. One part of this plan was a new primetime TV show, with one of the great comedians playing an inept terrorist named “Charlie”. The other part was that the FCC commissioner persuaded the network news services to:

    1. Never name a terrorist or terrorist organization. They would all be called “Charlies”.

    2. Never give publicity to their goals.

    3. Always give a comic twist to reporting on terrorism. Example, a news report on an operation in which a terrorist shot a very young witness: “Why did the Charlie shoot a baby girl?” “She was almost three, she knew too much.”

    In the 70’s the funniest terrorism ever got was when Squeaky Fromm smuggled a pistol within easy range of the President, but apparently didn’t know how to release the safety. It’s so much easier to make fun of the underwear bomber. “Nah, he just wanted to try a wienie roast. With his own wienie.”

    But getting the media to cooperate these days???

  32. #32 |  markm | 

    As for the Scientology story, does being a church somehow exempt them from the law? I’m pretty sure a private employer that fired employees for becoming pregnant (or transferred them to a much less desirable job in a remote location) would violate at least the FMLA. The Sea Org is a monastic order in some ways, but celibacy is not a requirement of the organization, so I don’t see how they could claim a religious exemption for their ban on parenthood.

  33. #33 |  You! Slow Down! | 

    Marty – briefly, (and hopefully less flippant than the comment I posted last night before going to bed), cops have a tendency to want to “own” rescues and not share the glory with anyone else. This is simply a function of the authoritarian nature of their job. They are also not particularly qualified in that field. I mean we are talking about people here whose regular job is to arrest innocent pot smokers, and raise money for the State by extorting money out of motorists for minor traffic violations.

    As for where to find professionals for urban flood rescues the fire department is the most likely place, as rescue is part of their job to begin with, and CERT volunteers and others could certainly be trained in various rescue skills except there are too many entrenched powers that be who won’t allow it.

    In wilderness environments, most river guides I know of are trained in wilderness EMT, swiftwater rescue and other skills they may need. ICS (or whatever it is known as now) came out of western wildland fire management a

  34. #34 |  You! Slow Down! | 

    sorry…hit the wrong button too soon :) ICS seems to work for emergency management in general but if somebody is already on the scene who is already more familiar with the river than any cop will ever be, but the police take control over the scene and want to spend half an hour setting up ropes while a river guide is already there and knows what to do, I don’t see where they have any business taking over the chain of command.

  35. #35 |  Marty | 

    all good points, you!…

    I’ve seen breakdowns in ics and great incident commanders incorporate bystanders and non-standard resources into rescues. I try not to monday morning quarterback and second guess people, but this doesn’t sound good…

  36. #36 |  Bernard | 

    My only criticism of the Arizona legislation is that it doesn’t go far enough.

    If being the children of migrants makes your citizenship unconstitutional then, to ensure consistently, the bill should retrospectively strip citizenship from anyone in Arizona whose ancestors entered the US after indepedence. Those people were migrants (and almost all of whose legal status would be questionable if explored in the detail Arizona are going into) and so their children, grandchildren etc. are illegal aliens.

    The sad downside is that that would mean a good proportion of the Arizona state legislature needing to be marched out and deported immediately the bill is signed, but it’s a small price to pay for constitutional consistency.

  37. #37 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    JS@64 – I wasn’t really commenting on security theatre, I was commenting specifically on the impossibility of protecting a modern country’s basic infrastructure directly.

  38. #38 |  buzz | 

    “1) I didn’t know states could deny US citizenship.

    They can’t. That is one of the enumerated powers expressly given to Congress by the Constitution. Which makes this new proposed AZ law even more ridiculous than the first one.”

    Perhaps they feel that since Congress has blown off being restricted by the enumerated powers in the Constitution, the states can ignore it also. Why is either of them ridiculous? What would you suggest the folks living on the border do, if the feds refuse to do anything? And anyone who says this is part of anti-immigration, concedes the argument. Anti ILLEGAL immigration, yes.

  39. #39 |  Mark F. | 

    Children of foreign diplomats born in this country have never been granted U.S. citizenship auttimatically (they are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States), so there’s no reason Congress can’t change the law to end automatic citizenship for anchor babies.

  40. #40 |  Tim | 

    Invite 2 million Muslims to move into downtown Philly and take (by E.D.) all the land.

    What did Philly do? I mean, we’re annoying sure, but well, at least let me know first so I can move.